Interactive Voice Ads: Using Voice Dialogue Ads to Engage Your Audience
Interactive voice ads have launched audio advertising into a groundbreaking new era.
A new wave of voice-enabled digital advertising has been slowly brewing underground since 2017. It wasn’t until the spring of 2019, however, that interactive voice ads evolved from a strategy companies simply talked about implementing down the road to something they’ve gone ahead and launched to better interact with their customers today.
Some of the world’s biggest brands are now using interactive voice ads to engage with their consumers on an increasingly intimate scale. In fact, two of the most popular audio streaming services, Spotify and Pandora, introduced interactive voice ad integration to their platforms, suggesting to advertising industry experts that this is more than a fad or a flash in the pan.
Gone are the days where companies talk at their target audiences. With the growth of voice-enabled tech, consumers now expect to have a personalized, voice-first dialogue with their favorite brands.
As we move deeper into the voice-first era, it’s vital that your brand prepares for their first interactive voice ad campaign. We’re here to prepare you for that big step.
That’s why we chatted with Brian Mullins, Client Happiness Manager at Instreamatic, the tech company that’s changing the audio ad industry with their interactive voice ads (which are also sometimes referred to as voice dialogue ads). Brian and the Instreamatic team have helped colossal brands, from automobile manufacturers Mazda, Ford, Nisssan, BMW, and Chevrolet, to restaurant chains McDonald’s, KFC, and Starbucks, to the likes of Adidas and HP, to launch revolutionary interactive voice ad campaigns.
In this article, Mullins will answer several important questions, such as:
- What is an interactive voice ad?
- How do interactive voice ads work?
- What are the main components of an interactive voice ad?
- Sonic branding for interactive voice ads
- How can I create a new interactive voice ad?
- How long does it take to produce an interactive voice ad?
- Interactive voice ad exchanges
- Which platforms can I publish an interactive voice ad on?
- Case Study: Mazda’s Continuous Dialogue campaign
- How effective are interactive voice ads?
Interactive Voice Ads
An interactive voice ad is a voice-enabled audio ad that prompts the consumer to engage directly with the advertisement using their own voice. This requires the consumer to offer affirmative or negative responses, which the ad has the capacity to perceive, and then the ad delivers an audio response back to the consumer. Interactive voice ads simulate a real-life conversation between two people.
For example, instead of simply promoting a brand’s product, an interactive voice ad could ask the listener if they want to find out more information about the advertised product. It humanizes the experience of being advertised to.
“It’s an ad that talks to you and you can talk back to it,” says Mullins. “It opens up that dialogue that you definitely wouldn’t get with a one-way monologue ad.”
Mullins says Instreamatic’s interactive voice ad platform is powered by artificial intelligence that lets customers say much more than just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when they’re interacting with voice dialogue ads.
As an example, an interactive voice ad for a new laptop could include a verbal call-to-action, asking the listener if they want to learn more about the computer’s features. The listener then responds out loud to the ad using the microphone in their device. If the listener responds positively by uttering something like “that sounds cool,” “sure,” or “yeah totally,” the interactive voice ad instantly processes the consumer’s interest and proceeds to provide additional audio information about the product.
If a consumer responds negatively, for instance, by saying “not right now,” “I’ll pass,” or “leave me alone,” the interactive voice ad’s artificial intelligence will pick up on the negative response. The ad will end and continue forth to the podcast, music, or other audio content on the audio streaming platform.
Since the advent of broadcast, traditional audio ads—like the spots you hear on radio or podcasts—weren’t clickable. There wasn’t any way for advertisers to know with certainty how many listeners were actually served the ad, which of them went on to seek out additional product information, or better yet, how many of these consumers made a purchase based on what they heard.
Now, with clear trackable target action, positive responses, negative responses, or no responses at all, interactive voice ads provide incredible data for brands to monitor the effectiveness of their audio ads.
In sum, interactive voice ads are a voice-activated version of audio advertising designed for smart speakers, which allow the consumer to talk back to the advertisement.
How Do Interactive Voice Ads Work?
Instreamatic and their team have developed a Voice AI program that is constantly learning in order to better understand natural human dialogue.
Here’s a sample format of an affirmative response exchange with an interactive voice ad:
- Intro teaser script: The ad asks the consumer a question
- Listener says “yes” or expresses a positive response
- Positive response script: The ad replies and provides the consumer with more information about the brand or product
- Target action script: The ad offers whatever the desired target action happens to be (e.g. launching the advertised app, providing directions to the advertised restaurant, etc)
3 Main Components of an Interactive Voice Ad
Essentially, there are three central components of any interactive voice ad:
- Audio: Audio content is uploaded and serves as the basis of the audio ad.
- Target Actions: Target actions are used to draw the listener to a webpage, link, app, or a desired action after receiving a positive response from the listener.
- Final ad impression: Even if the listener doesn’t express interest, the impression isn’t lost. The interactive voice ad has the capacity to follow-up and say, “Okay, ‘Brand Name’ is now taking you back to your music.” This ensures that brand recall is enforced as the voice ad draws to a close, leaving a positive, lasting impression.
Need a visual of how these new audio ads actually work?
Check out this video of Waze’s voice dialogue ad campaign on Audiomack:
Sonic Branding for Interactive Voice Ads
Interactive voice ads are a fantastic channel through which to express your sonic brand.
A sonic brand is your brand’s distinct sonic identity that serves to drive home the tone and personality of your brand voice. It can include everything from a backing track, to a sonic logo, to the functional sounds activated as a user engages with and completes a transaction using a voice-activated device.
With the advent of smart speakers, your brand now has the ability to interweave your unique sonic architecture into a consumer’s everyday life. When a consumer opens your app using a smart speaker, your sonic logo should sound. You may decide to score your interactive voice ad with a musical track moulded from your brand soundscape, or offer two distinct versions of your sonic logo that play at the beginning and ending of your interactive voice ad.
In short, when a consumer is served any piece of your audio content, including an interactive voice ad, your sonic branding efforts should aim to replicate the physical sensation of stepping into a store. Your sonic brand should have the power to transport your consumer from the other content they are listening to, and into your singular universe.
The 7 Steps to Producing Your Brand’s Interactive Voice Ad
There are seven primary steps necessary for creating an interactive voice ad. Let Mullins break it down for you:
1. Determine Budget, Scope, and Length
You and your creative team should first establish what your budget is, how long you’d like your ad to run for, the rates you’re willing to pay, and your desired cost-per-impression.
2. Find Your Target Demographic
Once you have that sorted out, you’ll want to scope out your target demographic. When you’re conducting your market research to determine who to target your interactive voice ad to, it can be as detailed as defining any or all of the following:
- Where they live
- Cultural background
- Education level
- Interests and hobbies
- Challenges and aspirations
- How they speak to one another (this can mean everything from slang, to the way they communicate via technological means, be it via social networks, over the telephone, or in person)
3. Write Your Interactive Voice Ad Script
After you have your target audience and budget in place, you need to tailor your message with a strong script. Mullins says it’s important to put together multiple scripts for different interactions that may occur as part of the interactive voice ad. According to Mullins, there can be four or more scripts required for varying interactions in the voice dialogue ad, like:
- Intro script
- Listener is interested script
- Listener isn’t interested script
- Unintelligible or no response by user script
Check out these free sample scripts to kickstart your creative audio campaign.
4. Source a Voice Actor
Hiring a professional voice actor is the best way to bring your interactive voice ad to life.
Need to hire a professional voice actor for your interactive voice ad campaign? Browse the world’s largest selection of voice actors today.
5. Plug in Your Ad Information
Mullins instructs that, once the voice actor has recorded your multiple script responses, you can input all the data into an advertising platform (Instreamatic uses Advibe).
First, an ad booking is created. Here is all of the subsequent information Mullins advises you input:
- Name of the ad campaign
- The date range when you’d like the ad to run
- Target demographics
- Interested response limits per day (e.g. A store is selling a limited number of products in store, which means there’s a limit of how many times a consumer can express interest in that ad. Therefore, hundreds of people don’t show up to the store to find out it’s sold out.)
6. Decide Where to Publish
From there, it’s decided which networks your interactive voice ad are going to be published on within Instreamatic’s integrated network of publishers. Mullins says Instreamatic will target certain platforms, apps, and devices that fit your target audience.
7. Launch Your Ad
Once all of the data is inputted, the voice dialogue ad is ready to launch. Mullins tells us that it can go live pretty soon after.
“Usually, within 20 minutes of being created, that ad can start playing on those different platforms,” says Mullins.
How Long Does It Take To Make an Interactive Voice Ad?
These tips outline the entire process involved in creating these state-of-the-art audio ads. However, you may still be wondering how long it actually takes from start to finish for an interactive voice ad campaign to go live.
It’s just under three weeks, according to Mullins.
“It takes about two and a half weeks from the first time we speak with you in an introductory call to the finished product,” explains Mullins. “If you’re an advertiser with a budget and script ready to go, we can get you live in two weeks or less. If everything is ready, it’s a pretty quick turnaround.”
Interactive Voice Ad Exchanges
One element of interactive voice ads still worth addressing is the average number of exchanges that take place throughout a typical voice dialogue ad.
On the low end, you’re looking at three exchanges if the listener isn’t interested (e.g. “Hey, want to learn more about the latest smartphone?” “No.” “Okay, Tim’s Tech is taking you back to your music.”)
On the high end, an interactive voice ad could run up to six or seven exchanges. Brian says that’s most common when the listener is largely providing unintelligible answers.
“It only drags on if the ad can’t hear you. So let’s say you’re in the gym and it’s noisy. The ad will say ‘I’m sorry, I can’t hear you,’” Brian explains. “It will ask one more time after that if it still can’t hear you. If it still doesn’t understand you, it says something like, ‘We’ll try again later. ‘Brand Name’ is taking you back to your music.’”
Finally, if it’s a straightforward interaction with a positive response, then you’re looking at about four exchanges.
Where Can I Launch an Interactive Voice Ad?
There are a number of audio streaming networks, applications, and platforms that your interactive voice ad campaign can be brought to life on.
One of the most exciting platforms to offer voice dialogue ads to date was announced in spring 2019.
Pandora partnered with Instreamatic to launch a groundbreaking interactive voice ad beta in late 2019.
Check out this detailed article walking you through how to use Pandora ads for your audio advertising strategy.
According to TechCrunch, brands looking to build an interactive voice ad will need to provide their own voice solution or rely on Instreamatic if they want to participate in this burgeoning space.
Spotify also went ahead and introduced interactive voice ads to their streaming service. Spotify’s voice dialogue ads will encourage the listener to say a verbal command to interact and explore other internal Spotify playlists, podcasts, and content.
Case Study: Instreamatic Partners With Mazda for an Interactive Voice Ad Campaign
This winter, Instreamatic worked with Mazda to launch an innovative marketing campaign to promote their new CX-5 model. Their primary goal was to build knowledge about the Mazda CX-5 and direct consumers to the model’s landing page. To achieve this, they harnessed the power of voice to spark a dialogue—not merely a figurative one, but rather a real, voice-to-voice dialogue between consumers and the brand.
Instreamatic used their interactive voice technology to launch a ‘Continuous Dialogue’ with each consumer the Mazda ad was delivered to by way of podcasts or music and online radio apps. When queried whether they would like to learn more about the CX-5, interested respondents were brought to Mazda’s seasonal promotion page. Meanwhile, consumers who initially expressed disinterest were served a new exchange with a different appeal: a prompt to see photos of the CX-5.
By using artificial intelligence to build an extended dialogue between brand and consumer based on each user’s previous exchanges, Instreamatic succeeded in transforming about 3.29% of uninterested consumers into interested ones. The interactive element of Mazda’s audio ads achieved a consumer change of heart that traditional audio ads, which simply play once and then end, aren’t capable of doing. This is only the beginning for an intelligent form of advertising that presents listeners with a variety of dialogue branch scenarios tailored to best respond to their degree of interest and what most appeals to them as individuals.
Gauging the Effectiveness of Interactive Voice Ads
There is some substantial data suggesting interactive voice ads are quite effective.
It has been found that consumers respond more positively to interactive voice ads than numerous other forms of advertising.
In fact, 39 percent of consumers who have come across voice dialogue ads have said they are less intrusive than traditional advertisements (i.e. print, TV, online and social media). The same report also found that 39% believe the ads are more engaging.
“We saw a higher ad recall rate (30%) over traditional audio ads. We tried a voice dialogue audio ad with the same creative and it had a 30% higher ad recall rate over the traditional audio ad. That’s significantly higher than what you would see with traditional audio ads,” says Mullins.
On top of that, a study from Instreamatic discovered that interactive voice ads were ten times more effective than other ads that ran through an online streaming service.
Instreamatic recently ran an interactive voice ad campaign with a streaming service in Russia. While the voice dialogue ads only represented 1% of the total ad impressions, those ads actually brought in 10% of their revenue.
This led to a higher and more memorable reach of 58.3%, which exceeded the 25–35% average that was achieved with audio-only ads that have been utilized historically.
However, interactive voice ads may possess some shortcomings that are valuable to keep in mind.
eMarketer found that around 42% of 1,079 survey respondents felt that digital ads are becoming ‘too aggressive,’ as they follow users around multiple devices. Interactive voice advertising has to tread that line carefully, or it runs the risk of further pushing consumers to the breaking point of ad fatigue.
Hopefully, you feel fully equipped to tackle your first interactive voice ad campaign. We’d love to hear about what you think about this groundbreaking audio ad format. How do you see your company using them? Excited for this new opportunity for voice actors?
Leave a comment below!